Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Eco Cosmetic sunscreens: a discussion of my favourite products

Eco Cosmetics produce a wide range of sunscreen products, and I have been using quite a few of them for a year now. I really like the products in general, but I wish they would make some of them less oily, easier to rub in.

Most products leave the skin well nourished, but this is also a problem. My face often looks like I rubbed half a jar of coconut oil on it when I use Eco Cosmetics sunscreens.

The only product that doesn't do this to a high degree is the tinted day cream with SPF 15.

So, onto my review...

I snuck in another sun protection face product: ILIA Sheer Vivid Tinted Moisturiser SPF 20... It is not a 100% natural cosmetic, as they use silicone in the formulation. 

First from left in this row, the Lip Care stick from Eco Cosmetics, SPF 30. The stick is quite solid and waxy, and leaves a slightly yellowish white layer on the lips. It kind of reminds me of the lip SPF sticks I used to use for skiing. I can see why the stick consistency is the way it is, it needs to stay on the lips to protect, but it just doesn't feel comfortable. It is not especially caring either, and I don't use it regularly. I will not be buying it again.

Second from left is the tinted face cream SPF 15. I really like this product, and am on my second one. I use it almost daily. The only thing is that it takes quite a while to sink into the skin, and I find it leaves the skin a bit tacky. A layer of mineral powder (more sun protection, so that's good) over the top solves this, as well as reduces the shine the cream leaves. The colour blends in well, although it is a little too pink for my complection. I will definitely buy again, this is a great product for every day, especially if you don't have to sit out in the sun and work in an office like I do.

The third product is the facial sun gel, SPF 30. I have a love/hate relationship with this gel. I think it smells nice, and really nourishes the skin, but if you accidentally take too much, you look like a shining oil ball! The product does not sink into the skin very well. I have quite dry skin on my face, and I find this too fatty. When you accidentally get it on your lips, it leaves your lips all warm and strange feeling. I keep this product in my hand bag and take it to work for when we have an al-fresco lunch and I need some sun protection at midday. I initially loved this product, but am on the fence now and will not be rebuying it for the time being.

Finally on the right, the odd one out in this post: ILIA Sheer Vivid Tinted Moisturiser SPF 20. Although it is technically not a natural product due to the silicone that is added to the formulation, the other ingredients are really nice. After trying a sample of this product I bought it. It goes on smoothly (silicone!) and does not leave the skin dry or greasy. The colour is on the yellow side, but seems to fade into my own skin colour leaving it nice and even. Coverage is light. The consistency of the cream is lotion-like and quite liquid. Due to the silicones that are added to the formulation, I will not rebuy this product, although for face SPF it is the best one that I have used so far.

Below from left above to right below: Eco Cosmetics Sun Gel SPF30, Eco Cosmetics Tinted Face Cream SPF 15, and ILIA Sheer Vivid Tinted Moisturiser SPF 20.

I also bought Eco Cosmetics Compact Foundation SPF30. This product hasn't been in my hands long enough to write a proper review yet, but so far I like it. The product goes on matte and does not leave the face greasy. The colour is a little too pinkish for me, and I need to correct this by applying a dusting of my mineral foundation over the compact foundation. I think this product would be an ideal handbag item, for touch ups during the day before going out in the sun.

Now for the other sun care products. I have four products that I use on my body for sun protection, none lower than SPF 30. I am quite pale skinned and do not tan easily, get sunburn if I don't protect myself, so SPF 30 is really the minimum for me.

First on the left is Eco Cosmetics Sun Lotion SPF 30. I like this product very much. It blends in quite well, and the amount of oiliness and shine left on the skin after applying is within acceptable limits. It is slightly white, but if you blend it in properly it is not noticeable. The fragrance is quite lemony, which leaves me to wonder why many natural sun screen products have citric fragrances when it is well known that citrus oils are photosensitising. It just doesn't seem to make sense to me. So this is also my only reservation that I have about this product. I will use up and then decide what to do. The citrus fragrance does cause me to have concerns.

The second product in the middle is the Eco Cosmetics Sun Lotion Neutral SPF50. This product does not contain fragrance, which is a big plus point. However it is thicker than the SPF30 lotion, and takes a little more work to rub in. It leaves a slightly white sheen, but this does go after a bit. The lotion has quite a thick, oily consistency and leaves me feeling tacky for a long time. It does do a fabulous job though, and I have had no issues when I had to be in the midday sun for longer periods of time whilst wearing this product. Definite rebuy!

Eco Cosmetics Tinted Sun Cream SPF 30 is the last one on the right. This product is fine, but don't wear if you have light clothing on. It leaves unsightly brown stains everywhere you touch your skin that has been covered with this product. The texture is like a rich cream, and thus it leaves you shiny for quite some time. The nice thing about this product is that it is tinted, so you do not get the white problem when applying. It is also the negative point about this product. I think if you wear this on the beach in a bikini it would be fine, for everything else it is impractical. Since I do not care about looking white, as I am already pale,  I will not be rebuying.

From left to right: Eco Cosmetics Sun Lotion SPF30, Eco Cosmetics Sun Lotion Neutral SPF 50, Eco Cosmetics Tinted Sun Cream SPF 30:

Finally, the Eco Cosmetics Sun Oil SPF 30: I love this! It goes on quite oily, but it does sink into my skin well and it feels really nourishing. It leaves the skin with a glow. Nothing much else to add: this is definitely going to be a rebuy!

Since I have so many Eco Cosmetic sun care products, it would be silly to start buying other brands right now. I will finish what I have first and then try out some other brands to compare.

SOTD (Sample Of The Day) for today is:

Melvita Pulpe de Rose Plumping Radiance Serum. Like it said on the back of the sample, I used this on my cleansed face this morning. I like it. The smell is lovely, and the serum felt nourishing. The product goes into the skin fairly quickly and left it nice and soft. I would think that this is a great product as a basis for make up. I do not know if I will buy it. I have a buying stop, so it will have to wait until I run out of all my facial care products!!!

I'm off to Berlin for a long weekend with BF, but since I have a buying stop on natural cosmetics, I think it is most likely that I will not be visiting any specialist shops. It would be too difficult to resist the lure of more potentially amazing products! 


Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Apologies: I keep meaning to post and then life interferes!

I have been contemplating how to get back into the swing of blogging, and nothing seemed to get me going again! We have been spending lots of time in the garden, getting everything ready for summer.
The raised garden bed now has several kinds of radishes, spring onions, kohlrabi, broccoli, endives, cabbage, pumpkin and courgette (zucchini) growing. We also have pots with tomatoes, cucumbers, and aubergines (eggplant) growing. Not to mention the enourmous quantity of herbs! Can´t wait for the harvesting! We did have our first radish harvest, they grow so fast! Next lot is growing fine already...

My mother told me the greens from radishes are great for salads. But when I was told I had thrown the leaves on the compost already!! Next harvest I will definitely make a nice radish salad with the leaves and the bulbs.

I tend to do my household cleaning with baking soda and vinegar mainly but recently I was visiting my family in the Netherlands and was in a local supermarket where I found some environmentally friendly cleaners that I just had to try out. They are by Eco-Friendly cult brand Method, and really smell lovely! I love the packaging too...

This weekend I spent some time really sorting through my natural makeup and personal care collection. Not only have I got too many full sized products, the amount of samples I have is getting ridiculous! So, I am back to testing and reviewing. Summer is coming soon so I will be looking at self tanning lotion from Melvita (I STILL haven´t tested this!!!), a listing of my favourite sunscreen products from Eco Cosmetics and their latest product offering,  and a review of cream deodorants from four different brands (Wolkenseifen, Waldfussel, Ponyhütchen, SoapWalla)..

I am also going to use up and try out and review all the samples that I have collected over the last 12 months... I think I could really write every day if I wanted to, with the amount of stuff that I have bought and collected this last year.

I am now on a natural cosmetics buying ban; first I have to use up what I have before I can shop for more.

We are off to Berlin for a long weekend, and the weather is going to be hot and sunny, so the ideal time to test the sun products. First though I have to exfoliate my legs so I can finally test out the self tanner from Melvita! Review to follow in a couple of days.


Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Lots of keto foods: Recipes and pictures! PART 2

To continue my recipes, next up will be the Rahmgeschnetzeltes...

Rahmgeschnetzeltes (creamy pork strips)
serves 2-3
300 grams pork fillet, sliced in strips
paprika powder
1 TB of expeller pressed coconut oil
2 TB butter
1 small onion chopped finely
300 grams mushrooms, chopped (I tend to use ones that are in season, this time I used the brown champignons)
1 clove of garlic, pressed
some fresh thyme, finely chopped (maybe half a teaspoon)
1/2 cup of beef stock (I used homemade)
200 gram pot creme fraiche
freshly chopped flat leaf parsley to garnish

Season the pork strips with the salt, pepper and paprika.
In a heavy skillet melt one TB of the butter and sautee the chopped onion until golden. Right before the end, add the pressed garlic and the mushrooms and cook until soft. Add the thyme and stir. Remove the onions/garlic/mushrooms with the fat from the pan. Now melt the coconut oil and the rest of the butter in the pan and let brown lightly, and then add the seasoned pork strips. Fry until lightly browned and cooked through. Now add the onion/ mushroom mixture back to the pan, and add the beef stock and deglaze. Leave to simmer so the liquid is reduced and the meat becomes tender. Add the creme fraiche, taste to see if it needs more salt, garnish with the fresh parsley and serve. If the sauce is not as thick as you would like, thicken it with a little guar gum. I served this with cauliflower mash and half an avocado, but it is just as delicious with zucchini noodles, shirataki noodles or a nice green salad.

Next up: Stamppot!

Stamppot (a Dutch mashed winter dish!)
serves 4
2TB butter
2TB expeller pressed coconut oil
1 medium cauliflower (cooked, and mashed with 3 oz of cream cheese and seasoned with salt and pepper)
1/2 savoy cabbage, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, pressed
4 oz mature gouda cheese, cubed
4 oz of crispy crumbled bacon. Save the fat!
4 medium sized pork chops
salt and pepper to season
1/4 cup beef stock
small splash of dry white wine
3 oz double cream

Cook and mash the cauliflower and set aside. In one skillett, add a TB of butter and a TB of coconut oil and  fry the seasoned pork chops until cooked. Remove the chops to a plate and deglaze the pan with the splash of white wine and then the beef stock. Reduce a little, add the cream and let cook a little until a bit thickened. Put the pork chops back in the pan with the juices on the plate and put in the sauce so they stay warm. In a skillett, fry the bacon in 1 TB of coconut oil until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and now fry the chopped savoy cabbage until cooked and nicely browned in places. Add the onion to the mix and cook on medium a further couple of minutes until glazed. Add the garlic and sautee for another minute or so. Now it's time to put it all together: in the cauliflower mash (heat up if too cold) add the savoy cabbage/onion/garlic mixture stir well. Now add the bacon and the cheese cubes. To serve: add a pork chop with some sauce to a plate, and make a little sauce 'valley' in the mash too... This is very hearty and warming. The cabbage mixture freezes well, if you leave out the cheese.

And finally for this round of keto recipes: Dutch beef stew in the crock pot

 Dutch slow cooked beef stew or 'sudderlapjes'
serves 6
2 TB expeller pressed coconut oil
2 pounds of braising beef, in large pieces (I had 3 pieces)
seasoning (I used salt, pepper, paprika)
1 TB of tomato paste
1 large onion cut into 6 or 8 pieces
2 carrots, chopped in large pieces (they come out before eating, too carby)
a piece of celery root, chopped in pieces (I had about 8 1 inch pieces)
1/4 leek, chopped in pieces
3 cloves of garlic, chopped into 4 pieces each
2 medium tomatoes quartered
3 bay leaves
sprig of rosemary
3 sprigs of thyme
parsley, freshly chopped
1 cup of creme fraiche
1 TB of cold butter
guar gum for thickening if necessary

In a 6 quart crock pot, add all the vegetables.
Season the beef on both sides.
In a heavy bottomed pan/pot melt the coconut oil and brown the seasoned beef on both sides. Now transfer the meat to the crock pot, and lay on top of the vegetables. Deglaze the pan with the water and add in the tomato paste. Pour this into the crock pot and add the wine and the beef broth. Add the thyme and rosemary and cook on low for 6 hours. After about three hours, stir things around a bit if you like. After six hours, check if the meat is falling apart. This means it's cooked. Now remove the carrott pieces and the bay leaves. Add the creme fraiche and set to high until the stew starts bubbling again. Now add the cold butter and if you need more thickening the guar gum. Finally add the creme fraiche and chopped parsley and serve. This is delicious as a thick soup, or over shirataki noodles or rice as well as cauliflower mash. Really good. This freezes well too, so great for making in advance.

Lots of keto foods: recipes and pictures! PART 1

I've been paying attention to my macros lately and adapting lots of Low Carb and High Carb favourites to suit my keto macro needs.

I also bought a CrockPot and have been using it for slow cooking and of course for making bone broth! I'm going to be daring and even make some fish stock soon! I ordered some fish bones and heads, etc from the fresh fish counter at my local supermarket and picking them up this weekend, so I'll get back to you on that one!

First off, my favourite breakfast: Keto Porridge, Dutch style...

Keto Porridge, Dutch style
serves 2
1TB ground flax seeds
2TB ground almonds
2TB ground hazelnuts
2TB chia seeds
4TB dried coconut, I use finely chopped, it looks a little like sawdust!
2 scoops protein powder (I use Source Naturals vanilla whey protein powder)
1TB gelatin powder (I use Great Lakes Beef Gelatin)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground vanilla bean
sweetener to taste (I use stevia powder)
pinch of celtic or himalayan salt
1/2 cup double cream (I use organic cream)
1 1/2 cups cold water
2 TB butter (I use Kerrygold)

In a small pan mix all the dry ingredients. Add the cream and the water, whisk until everything is mixed and let stand for 5 or so minutes. The mixture will thicken. Now slowly heat the mixture until it starts bubbling. Keep stirring and turn the heat to low for another minute or two. As you are heating the mixture it will get less solid, but don't worry, if you serve it will thicken up properly again. If you find the mixture too thick, just add a little more water.

To serve, divide the mixture into two bowls, add more sweetener if you feel you need it and top the porridge with a TB of butter. EAT!
I prepare the dry mixture beforehand and divide it per portion in a plastic bag. Then, when I want to eat my breakfast I have everything ready and I can cook it in 7 minutes. Perfect.

Next up: Oopsies, my style; I used Cleochatra's recipe (My Lighter Life) as my starting point and added a few bits so they held up better and had a bit more flavour. These are savoury keto replacement bread buns.

Oopsies, my style
makes approx 14-16 buns
6 large eggs at room temperature, separated
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (Weinsteinbackpulver)
200gm package plain cream cheese (I use Buko, der Sahnige)
2 TB bleached almond flour
2 TB flaxmeal
4 TB ground parmesan cheese
pinch of salt
ground black pepper
paprika powder, unsmoked

Preheat oven to upper lower heat setting and to 160 degrees celsius.

Separate the eggs and add the cream of tartar to the egg whites. Also add a pinch of salt. In another bowl mix the yolks with the cream cheese, the almond flour, the flax meal, the parmesan cheese, a little salt, pepper and paprika. I use a handheld mixer and make sure everything is well blended.
Then whip the egg whites until very stiff and slowly fold into the yolk mixture. Once mixed (it's ok if not perfectly mixed) get two baking sheets and line them with parchment paper. On each sheet drop about 6-8 mounds of the mixture, making them a little flatter and a bit round. I don't really worry about the shape. Then put the sheets above one another in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Then switch the sheets round so all the buns get cooked evenly and let cook for another 15 minutes. Then turn off oven and leave with the door open for about 5 minutes. Take the buns, they will be pretty flat by now, out of the oven and leave them to cool on a rack.

To store, use a container and layer the buns between paper and keep the lid loosly on top. These keep up to a week or so in the fridge and they can be frozen too. When you thaw them, make sure some air can get to them, otherwise they become wet and sticky. The buns can be toasted as well.

Next recipe: creamy spinach and ground beef. It's really a beef florentine style dish, made simple for a quick meal.

Creamy spinach and ground beef

serves 2
2 TB expeller pressed coconut oil
250 grams of ground beef
paprika powder
dried majoram
dried basil
1 1/2 cups frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained
4 oz cream cheese

In a heavy bottomed pan melt the coconut oil and fry the beef. Halfway through the beef being cooked, add the herbs and the spices. Make sure the beef is broken up properly. Once cooked, add the spinach and heat through. Finally add the cream cheese. Serve on top of shirataki rice or noodles and top with some freshly ground parmesan cheese. This meal takes about 15 minutes to cook, so perfect when you have little time and still want a nutritious dinner.

Part 2 coming up after the break... xxx C.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

It's been a while: back to blogging!

I've been MIA for a while, sorry!

After a nice holiday in September 2014 by the seaside in Domburg, I had to work very hard and had a lot to do before going off to Bogota in Colombia for a work conference.
Of course when I came back I was in a rush to finish any and all work before I had my bunionoplasty on my left foot. And here we are in 2015!

I will be posting lots once I get my pictures in order but you can expect the following posts from me in a short timespan:

- enjoying the beach
- making bone broth and soup
- Bogota
- bunionoplasty and good nourishment for operation recovery
- hair care
- feeding our garden inhabitants
- fitness
- keto meals
- body care
- turmeric, my go-to miracle product/food/medicine

xxx, C

Monday, 1 September 2014

Weekend musings: raised garden beds and soup making

Well, the weekend was busy. We have built a raised garden bed and I made lots of chicken bone broth.

A picture of the finished raised bed:

I already sowed some radish seeds, and will sow some carrot seeds as well for a late harvest before winter. After that, we have to be patient and start properly next spring!

The weather was autumnal, and so in between the burst of sunshine we had thunderstorms and lots of wind and rain. Perfect weather for nice warm soup!

I always save chicken carcasses and I freeze them until I have enough for two large pots of broth.

Here's a simple and delicious recipe for chicken bone broth that I think is failsafe:


Chicken carcass and bones, enough to fill 2/3 of a large soup pot.
good splash of organic apple cider vinegar, unfiltered
1 onion, outer dirt removed, quartered
1 large clove of garlic, cut in half
celery root, leaves and stalk, roughly chopped
whatever leftover raw vegetable cuttings you have: i use ends of carrots, some cauliflower
parsley, about a handful
a medium sized tomato, quartered
about 6 juniper berries, dried
about 6 pimento berries, dried
about 20 black peppercorns
2 cloves, dried
sea salt to taste

In the large soup pot add the carcasses and bones and cover with filtered cold water. Make sure the bones are under about an inch of water. Add the apple cider vinegar and cover, and leave for an hour. Don't turn on the heat yet.
After an hour or so, turn the heat under the pot on and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat until the liquid is just simmering. With a slotted spoon take off any scum and foam that floats on the surface. After about 4 hours of simmering, add all the other ingredients save for the salt. Leave to simmer for another 8 or so hours, or longer. I tend to switch mine off before I go to sleep and switch on again the next morning. I've found that simmering for up to 24 hours but with a minimum of 8 hours gives nice results. Once you deem the broth ready (just taste it), sieve out all the debris (bones, vegetables, spices) and add the salt to taste. Once the salt is incorporated, you can divide the broth in portions, leave to cool and store. The broth keeps for about 5 days in the fridge, and months in the freezer.

I use this as a base for many soups.

I'm making a courgette or broccoli dinner-soup on Tuesday, so I'll post a recipe and some pictures of the result. 

xxx C.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Natural skincare: my routine and favourite products

Another week has gone by without posting, time flies when you're busy!

We've been building a raised garden bed so we can enjoy lots of home grown veggies next year. Once it's finished I'll dedicate a post to the whole building, filling and planting of raised beds.

Here's a picture of the frame so far:

Now for my facial skincare routine...

Since changing to all natural cosmetics, I've been trying out lots of products. I still change between products, depending on what my skincare needs are at the time.

First of all, I have dry, sensitive skin with a lightly oily t-zone and very rarely do I get spots.
For cleansing I generally cleanse in the evening and use the oil cleansing method: with an oil of your choice gently 'wash' your face and then using a soft towel that is wet with warm water give yourself a 'steam' bath. You lay the towel over your face, wait a little while and softly rub your face once and rinse and repeat untill the dirt is on the towel and not your face. Then a final rinse with cold water and you're squeaky clean and your skin is cared for. It's a really deep clean without harsh rubbing or using harsh soaps. Works a like a dream on my skin.

When I have an eczema outbreak on my skin, I use coconut oil for oil cleansing and moisturising.

When I have clear skin, I use my own blended oil cleanser: 1/4 castor oil, 1/4 apricot kernel oil and 1/2 olive oil. This is when my skin behaves normally. For travelling I got a trial sized bottle of jojoba oil from Primavera, and as this bottle closes better than the plastic one with my own blend, it's saver putting into my beauty bag. Sometimes, when the mood strikes I use Martina Gebhart Shea Butter cleanser, it's a lovely lotion cleanser, and I rub this all over my face and remove with a soft towel and afterwards I rinse my face with water. 

After hard work and lots of sweating and grime (working in the garden does this), I sometimes use Dr Bronner's Magic Soap in Neutral-Mild (unfragranced) diluted 10 times in water as a face wash. I do moisturise extra after, as even diluted this much it tends to dry out my skin a little.

I bought lots of the turquoise face towels: I can use a new one every day and only have to wash them once every two weeks. I wash them at 60 degrees with a Sodasan detergent that is unfragranced. 

After cleansing, whether it's morning or night, I like using a toner of some kind on my face. Depending on my mood and skin appearance, I change between rose water, orange flower water and witch hazel water. I bought empty pump diffuser bottles, so I have I just finished my bottle of YUULI Metamorphic Elixir, which is really expensive but so, so nice. I'm definitely getting this again. In fact, I just got paid, so I'm placing an order with Amazingy right after posting here! The facial mist is amazing: it is moisturising, so perfect for an oil free night care regime and for people with oily skin for during the day. I find it really calms the skin, gives a wonderful glow and really improves the general appearance of the skin over time.

After toning, I then layer my care products. Every morning and night, I use Dr Alkaitis Organic Soothing Gel, which is lovely and gentle, and clears up any eczema flare ups I have. (Especially when I moisturise with coconut oil after, it's a magical combination for my skin.) This is all the skin care I do in the evening, I don't use any oily products over night, which seems to have improved the general feel and look of my skin.
In the morning, I do what takes my fancy: I either use Dr. Alkaitis Organic Nourishing Treatment Oil, Pai Rosehip Oil (DO NOT USE IN THE SUN) and depending on the sunshine add a suncare product over the oil once it's gone into the skin. Especially with the Pai Rosehip oil I tend to use the SPF 30 if I know I'm going to be outside for longer than walking from my car to the office. Otherwise I use SPF 15. 

For lip care, I love the Weleda Everon lip care stick. I love the smell, the consistency and the care it gives! I don't need lip care every day. Normally once we get to the colder months I tend to use it.

So that's my skincare routine. I'm not super consistent, but tend to cleanse my face in the evening and only splash with water in the morning. One consistent thing is always the Dr Alkaitis Organic Soothing Gel, I love this a lot. And once I have the YUULI Metamorphic Elixir again, I guess I'll use that regularly too. Everything else really depends on my mood and the condition of my skin.

In the spring BioBox delivery I got this Arnica Gel Cool Lavender from Go&Home. I was initially a little annoyed and couldn't imagine using it at all, but that all changed in the last month: We got mosquitoes! And this gel is wonderful at keeping mosquitoes at bay and for reducing swelling and itchyness from mosquito bites! It now lives on my nightstand, so I have it at hand before I go to sleep. I rub a little onto my arms and legs and since then I've not had a bite. And mosquitoes love me.... 

Next post I'll report about some hair care findings, and I'll post a homemade courgette soup recipe...

xxx, C.